Welcome to Sail-World.Com's Olympic newsletter for Day 12 of the 2008 Olympic Sailing Regatta.
An elated Shahar Zubari (ISR) phones home just minutes after winning the Bronze medal in the RS:X Mens Event
With now just one day left in the 2008 Olympic Regatta in Qingdao, the parties have all but started.
Certainly the New Zealanders will be hard pressed to restrain themselves after they won a Gold Medal today – even though they have sailors racing tomorrow. For the more reserved Chinese, there will no doubt be a quiet drink, or two.
Both Gold Medals are significant.
For the Chinese it is their first Gold Medal in sailing, and gives them two medals from this Olympics – a bronze in the Laser Radial lifting them into a new place in the sailing world.
New Zealand has a long established Olympic tradition, which has struggled to maintain its gleam in recent years with the double focus for its sailors of the America’s Cup, both for its own team and others, and the fact that so many of its top sailors are professionals for a myriad of international campaigns.
Start of RS:X Mens Medal Race - 2008 Qingdao.
After failing to win a medal at the Athens Olympics, along with its neighbour Australia, both went through a considerable soul-searching exercise.
Australia have hauled themselves up by the bootstraps, winning two Gold medals so far, with a good prospect of a third in the form of current world champions, Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby competing in the Tornado class tomorrow.
Jian Yin (CHN) celebrates immediately after crossing the finish line to win the RS:X Womens Gold medal
New Zealand came into this regatta with high hopes, and a tough selection policy – probably the harshest of any country competing – declining to send crew in two classes in which the Kiwis had qualified.
While several of their team made good starts to the regatta for various reasons they fell to the vagaries of Qingdao, as so many others have done. However their sailing medal drought is broken, with Tom Ashley's superb win under tremendous pressure this afternoon.
Tomorrow will see the Last Waltz, which will hopefully be more of a flypast, for the Tornado class - as the multihull is due to be dropped for the 2012 Olympics.
If the predicted seabreeze arrives, the Tornado medal race should be most spectacular event of this Olympiad – even though it is probably only a two or three horse race for the Gold medal.
An emotional Jian Yin (CHN) soon after the end of the RS:X Womens - Medal Race
All would hope that organisers give the Tornado crews a chance to stretch their legs, and not restrict the fleet to a 19 minute two leg event that was the lot of the RS:X Mens today.
An elated Tom Ashley on the winners podium at the RS:X Mens Medal ceremony Qingdao Olympic Regatta
However today’s was China’s day. As host for this Olympics they took on a huge task, in a difficult environment, and have been found wanting in several areas.
But today all that was forgotten in the emotion and joy of their first Gold Medal and the scenes on the water and back in the Olympic harbour will remain with all, for a very long time.
Sail-World Olympic Editor